All about the all-star skin-care ingredient that helps skin retain moisture and fight off signs of aging. Here’s how it works:
Here’s one skincare ingredient that puts you in the fast lane to hydrated skin: hyaluronic acid, and it is an active ingredient in almost every skincare product category under the sun from serums, cleansers to moisturizers and more.
Not only does hyaluronic acid moisturise the skin, it minimizes signs of aging, since plump, hydrated skin makes fine lines and wrinkles less visible. So, what is it? Studies show that it’s a group of sugar molecules called polysaccharides. These molecules work to cushion and lubricate, and they are found naturally in the body’s connective tissues. Over time, your body’s stores of hyaluronic acid decline. Age is one reason but environmental factors — such as smoking and air pollution — also accelerate this process.
The good news is that topical products that feature hyaluronic acid, whether as part of the ingredients list in a moisturiser or as the star of a serum, can help rebuild those depleted stores.
Hyaluronic acid attracts and binds to water molecules and increases the water content of the skin. The key benefit of hyaluronic acid is hydration and that unbelievable ability to retain moisture.
To understand how important moisture is for the skin, you have to first know that dehydrated skin shows up as the top layer of skin which doesn’t have enough water and appears dry, rough, and flaky. Poorly hydrated skin is unable to maintain an appropriately intact skin barrier, leaving the skin more vulnerable to damage from external and environmental sources. Compromised skin barriers can play a role in many skin conditions, including dry skin, atopic dermatitis, rosacea, and acne.
Skin hydration is important because hydrated skin looks more plump, healthier, and more vibrant. And younger, too. According to research, skin ageing is associated with loss of skin moisture, and hyaluronic acid is the key ingredient when it comes to combating or reversing these signs. Because of its water-pulling qualities, hyaluronic acid can refine and age-rewind in those dry, sunken, or ‘crepe’ areas”.
A small study published in 2016 found that over-the-counter anti-wrinkle creams containing hyaluronic acid decreased the depth of wrinkles around the lips and eyes by 10% to 20% over a three-month period. Skin tightness also improved by 13% to 30%.
Experts recommend applying products with hyaluronic acid during the winter especially, when the skin tends to be at its driest. But even those who aren’t battling dryness will want to add hyaluronic acid to their skin-care routine as it’s responsible for giving the skin a healthy glow.
There are three types of hyaluronic acid:
Hydrolysed hyaluronic acid is hyaluronic acid that has been broken down into elements small enough to penetrate the skin. It’s moisturising, but not the most moisturising option, so it’s best for people who have oily or combination skin, since these skin types want to avoid over-moisturizing.
Sodium hyaluronate goes deeper into the skin and delivers even better results, though the effects aren’t very long lasting. Sodium hyaluronate is best for people who have normal skin, because it will allow moisture to seep in, but you don’t really need a heavy-duty, long-lasting effect. This is the ingredient you’ll likely find in serums.
Sodium acetylated hyaluronate has the benefits of sodium hyaluronate but with longer-lasting results. It’s best for people who need moisture, such as those with dry skin, those who live in dry climates, or those looking for a product for the dry winter months.
There’s also ingestible hyaluronic acid, which is a capsule filled with the active ingredient. The idea is that by taking a supplement, levels of the hyaluronic acid will be steady and the effects will last. Researchers have found that participants who took 120 milligrams of hyaluronic acid per day for 12 weeks improved their skin wrinkles and their overall skin condition.
Hyaluronic acid is generally safe for all skin types and doesn’t typically lead to any adverse reactions when applied topically. However experts point out that hyaluronic acid is also found in a large number of injectable fillers, and while the ingredient itself is safe, the procedure can be risky and should be performed by a certified doctor.
Before you purchase a topical product, follow these steps.
Check for Allergens and Vitamin C. Watch out for any ingredients you may be allergic to or that have caused you irritation in the past. Look for a hyaluronic acid product that also lists vitamin C as an ingredient as the two ingredients work together to boost effectiveness
Look for Its Molecular Weight. Acids with lower molecular weights (50 kilodaltons versus 2,000, for instance) can more easily penetrate the skin and have been shown to be more effective at fighting wrinkles. Studies have found that even a 0.1% concentration of hyaluronic acid led to increased hydration and elasticity, though most products will have 1-2%.
See if Alcohol Is Listed. Alcohol can counteract the ingredient’s moisturising benefits. Isopropyl alcohol is very drying and can leave skin vulnerable to cracking, allowing skin break and possibly irritants and bacteria to enter where they do not belong. In addition, the ‘drying effect’ can cause the cells to become less plump, the complete reverse effect of what we want.
Avoid Fragrance. Added fragrance can cause irritation or breakouts in people with sensitive skin, so it’s best to steer clear. Fragrance can also lead to contact dermatitis, which is a skin rash that can appear minutes to days after contact with a trigger.
Don’t Shy Away From Water. Often you’ll see that water is the first ingredient on your hyaluronic acid product. It may seem like a useless ingredient, as if it’s diluting the product, but it actually helps make the hyaluronic acid more effective. Having a more water-based product — rather than a cream, oil, or gel — will allow the product to penetrate the skin easier.
5 Skin-Care Products With Hyaluronic Acid That Dermatologists Recommend
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Serum
Clinique Moisture Surge 72-Hour Lipid-Replenishing Hydrator Moisturiser
CeraVe Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Face Serum
SkinCeuticals Hyaluronic Acid Intensifier
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Cleansing Gel & Oil-Free Makeup Remover With Hyaluronic Acid